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Great Ireland pre-event 2012 - TheEd - 13-04-2012

The tenth SPAR Great Ireland Run and SPAR Mini and Junior Great Ireland Runs will take over the Phoenix Park in Dublin on Sunday next (15th April) as over 11,000 adults and children enjoy a family running day out in the presence of the world’s greatest distance runner.

Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia, the reigning double Olympic champion at 5,000 and 10,000 metres, and current world record holder at both distances, will open his campaign to defend his Olympic titles in London this summer on the roads of the Phoenix Park.

Bekele will be the inspiring presence for the children who have signed up for Ireland’s largest ever running events: the SPAR Mini Great Ireland Run for 5 to 8 year olds, and the SPAR Junior Great Ireland Run for 9 to 15 year olds.

Among the many celebrities taking part will be:

American actor and Ugly Betty star Eric Mabius

Boyzone member and actor Keith Duffy

Radio and TV talk show presenters Matt Cooper and Craig Doyle

Model and former Miss World Rosanna Davison

Diarmuid Gavin, garden designer, TV show host and Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist

Irish actor Jason Barry from Titanic and film director David Caffrey

Coronation Street star John Michie (Karl Munro)

Emmerdale cast member Tony Audenshaw (Bob Hope)

RTE children’s TV show presenter Diana Bunici

Ireland’s most successful female athlete, Sonia O’Sullivan will be present to start the Junior Run along with Catherina McKiernan, Irish marathon record holder whose children will be taking part.

Bekele will be strongly challenged in the elite men’s Run where defending champion, Jesus Espana from Spain will be joined by his compatriot and European cross country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem to fully test how Bekele’s winter training has gone before he takes to the track for the first time in Doha next month. Also in the field are European 2010 10,000 metre bronze medallist, Daniele Meucci from Italy and Nick McCormick from Britain. The home runners will be led by Clonliffe Harrier and Olympic marathon qualifier, Mark Kenneally and national cross country champion, Eddie McGinley.

The women’s field will be led by the defending champion and runner-up from last year, Charlotte Purdue and Gemma Steel from Britain. They will be challenged by Aniko Kalovics from Hungary, Christelle Daunay from France and Ireland’s Olympic marathon qualifiers Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson from Dundrum South Dublin AC and Maria McCambridge from Letterkenny AC.

Once again, the run incorporate the Irish 10k road championships under the auspices of Athletics Ireland and a host of strong Irish club runners will be looking for fast times and personal bests.

The 10k gets under way at 1:15 pm and will be preceded by the SPAR Junior Run at 11:15 and the SPAR Mini Run at 11:30 over a distance of 2.5 km.

Personal late entries for the event will be accepted at Life Style Sports in Blanchardstown on Friday 13th April (12:00 to 19:00) and Saturday 14th April 2012 (10:00 to 16:00) subject to availability.

Suzanne Weldon, Marketing & Communications Director of SPAR Ireland said: “As title sponsor of the SPAR Great Ireland Run we are thrilled to welcome the world’s greatest distance runner, Kenenisa Bekele to Dublin. This summer’s Olympic Games are close to home in London and I hope that our Irish elite participants, and our visitors, go on to distinguish themselves there in August. Just as importantly, we support events like the Great Ireland Run because they offer families and individuals a fantastic day out for all ages and abilities to enjoy the challenge of staying fit and healthy. We are particularly pleased that so many children have entered the Mini and Junior Runs. I would like to wish all participants in Sunday’s SPAR Great Ireland Run an enjoyable and fun experience.”

2012 is the tenth running of the event in Dublin which has grown rapidly in popularity since the first Run in 2003. RTE Two television will broadcast the Run live in a special programme.

The SPAR Great Ireland Run is the only event in Ireland recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of athletics, with an IAAF Silver Road Race Label in recognition of the event’s high standard of organisation, elite participation and media profile.

Nearly 1,000 entrants in the Run are from the UK and their participation will be a significant boost to tourism in Dublin as they travel to the city for the weekend with family and friends.

Record numbers of participants are running for good causes including the SPAR charity of the year, The 3Ts - Turn the Tide of Suicide, providers of 1800 247 100, the 24 hour suicide prevention helpline. The Run’s other nominated charities are The Marie Keating Foundation and the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation. The Baby Max Wings of Love Fund is the nominated charity for the Mini and Junior Runs.